Written By: Pamela Erskine
When writing a service level agreement (SLA), consider if your customer will find value in the document. Is your SLA too technical? Does it list all of the technology that the IT organization is providing rather than referring to services or critical applications?
Most SLA documents include the utility and warranty aspects relating to IT service. Clearly the IT organization is providing value yet the customer won’t agree if they cannot understand how the technology supports them in their day to day operations. Consider how the customer perceives value. They value outcomes. They form preferences and perceptions based on their own experience and knowledge. Outcomes, preferences, and perceptions equate to how the customer defines value.
If there is too much technical jargon in the SLA document, the customer value was lost. The customer is interested in availability, security, continuity, and capacity but the information needs to be framed by talking about the service. The warranty aspects allow the service to perform to the customer’s expectations.
For example, if the IT Service Provider is backing up data on a server. The customer definitely wants their data backed up. Do they care about the technology? Most likely, they don’t. They merely want to use the applications and data that are on the server. They want a level of assurance that if something goes wrong, they can quickly recover without losing any information. As an IT Service Provider, we need to understand the customer’s requirement for availability and continuity and build a solution that fits within their requirements and budget. In the SLA document, the IT Service Provider should set expectations on service availability as well as continuity but the information needs to be meaningful to the audience. Referencing the impact on customer business processes or business activities when data is unavailable will help the customer relate to how the backup is providing value.
Remember, the customer is determining if the technology is valuable based on how it supports them in their day to day operation. The IT organization needs to communicate the value they are providing in terms the business can clearly understand.